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Here's the thing that I always hear when I ask someone if they make homemade sausage. They either say they don't have the right equipment, or that it is too much fuss. And that is because most people, when they think of sausage, think of sausages that are stuffed into casings.

It's a natural error: Most sausages are, in fact, encased meats. But once you remind someone that you can buy bulk breakfast style or Italian style sausage meat, people begin to open up to the idea of homemade. Because at the core, sausage is a combination of ground meat and seasoning. Which means if you aren't worried about getting it inside a slippery deflated balloon, sausage is actually super easy to throw together, and endlessly adaptable for your personal taste. 

How to use homemade sausage beyond breakfast

Once made, sausage meat can be used in all sorts of applications. It can be cooked loose into crumbles to add to sausage gravy, chili, and sloppy joes. It can be dotted on top of homemade pizza. You can form it into every shape from meatballs to patties, squish it onto skewers for grilling, and wrap it around hard-boiled eggs for Scotch eggs. You can sub it in for burger patties. Really, there is no end to the creative applications for this versatile meat.

An easy sausage to make at home

One of my favorite homemade sausages to whip up is a version of a Greek sausage called loukaniko. Flavored distinctively with leek, orange zest, coriander, and fennel, it is equally at home as a substitute for a breakfast sausage as it is on a bun for dinner. I make meatballs to simmer in cinnamon-scented tomato sauce, or patties to serve on buns with tzatziki sauce and pickled onions. I roll my homemade sausage into small links or form into smaller patties for breakfast or cook it into crumbles and add to a spinach and feta quiche. I think you'll love how easy it is to make and how inspiring once you know how.

How to make homemade loukaniko-style sausage

Both pork and lamb are traditional meats for sausages; I prefer pork for its milder flavor, which makes it more versatile. You can also make this recipe with ground turkey or ground veal.

Loukaniko Style Sausage 

Serves 8

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 leek, white and light green part only, well-washed and finely chopped

1 small shallot, minced

Zest of one large orange

2 pounds ground pork or lamb, preferably about 80-85% lean

½ tablespoon kosher salt 

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground

¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and finely ground

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons dry red wine

1. Heat the oil to shimmering in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the leeks and shallot, cooking until just tender but do not let color. Remove from heat and stir in the orange zest until well mixed. Set aside to cool.

2. In a small bowl, blend the salt with all of the spices until well mixed. 

3. In a large bowl, combine the pork or lamb, cooled leek mixture, spice blend, vinegar, and wine. Using your clean hands in the shape of a claw, mix everything together, taking care not to work the meat too much or squish it through your fingers. You want a well-blended mixture that is still light and loose. 

4. Form into the shape you want and cook in any method you prefer, from grilling to pan frying to simmering, until cooked through with an internal temperature of 165°.